Legislative Alert

For immediate release: Feb. 17, 2014
Contact: Camilla Feibelman, Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter director, 505.715.8388,
Demis Foster, Conservation Voters New Mexico executive director, 505-795-1242
Sanders Moore, Environment New Mexico director, 505-254-4819
Brian Shields, Amigos Bravos executive director, 575-770-0946
Doug Meiklejohn, New Mexico Environmental Law Center, 505-989-9022

Conservation groups oppose confirmation of Ryan Flynn for Environment Department secretary

On Tuesday, the state Senate Rules Committee is scheduled to hear Gov. Susana
Martinez’s nomination of Ryan Flynn as Environment Department secretary. Amigos
Bravos, Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter, Environment New Mexico, New Mexico
Environmental Law Center and Conservation Voters New Mexico oppose this

“The future of New Mexico, including its economy, is dependent on policies that
protect its environment,” said Brian Shields, Amigos Bravos executive director. “The
Secretary of the Environment Department has the primary responsibility of
protecting the health of people and the environment above and beyond any other
interests. Mr. Flynn has shown he cannot be trusted with this important

“Instead of protecting New Mexico families’ water, air and health, Mr. Flynn has
allowed the industries he is entrusted to regulate to write their own rules,” said
Camilla Feibelman, Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter director.

• Flynn rejected the recommendations of an advisory committee (including the
department’s own technical staff and other experts) for the rule meant to
protect the state’s groundwater from copper-mining pollution, substituting
language written by Freeport McMoRan, a copper giant that owns three copper
mines in Southwest New Mexico. That language allows mining companies to
pollute the state’s groundwater above health-based standards without
obtaining a variance, in violation of the Water Quality Act.
• A public-information request showed that the 200-page document the
Environment Department submitted as its own Statement of Reasons for
adopting the Copper Mine Rule was written by Freeport McMoRan.
• Flynn is charged with enforcing cleanup of the Kirtland Air Force Base fuel
spill but is also serving in the U.S. Air Force Reserves as an assistant judge
advocate. This is a conflict of interest, as the Air Force is responsible for
cleaning up the spill.
• The administration gave Los Alamos National Laboratory a pass to continue
to contaminate under its cleanup order by giving LANL blank extensions on
its deadline. Flynn agreed to a “framework agreement” that is outside the
legally binding Consent Order to clean up transuranic waste by 2015.
• While Flynn has been general counsel and secretary-designate, a once effective
department has been dismantled. At least six senior attorneys and
seven Groundwater Quality Bureau managers and staff have left the
department because they could not support the policies and management
directives of an Environment Department that is no longer interested in
protecting the environment.

“This loss of critical expertise and historical knowledge has resulted in delays in
issuance of permits and low staff morale since the Martinez administration took
over,” Feibelman said.


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